Hello and welcome back! Technically this could be considered the 16th week of the Wednesday Night War, but because NXT ran unopposed on Christmas Day, and AEW only had to compete with a clip show on New Year’s Day, I decided this is the 14th. Just to cover myself, I’ll be ditching this intro next week and going with the fact it’s the 15th.
Wednesday Night War – Week #14
After easily beating NXT last week in the Wednesday Night War ratings, can they not only do it again, but provide a more enjoyable experience from my perspective? This episode was titled ‘Bash At The Beach’. They didn’t really play in to the theme much though, aside from some props and occasionally panning the camera past a bikini beach girl in a raised chair.
– Despite some ‘deep analysis‘ from Baron Corbin, I enjoyed the opening match. One thing AEW Dynamite usually does right is open the show well with a decent match. The use of Orange Cassidy was very welcome indeed. I still don’t think having Kenny Omega and Hangman Page going over established teams is right, but it’s likely leading to a split after Pac & Omega settle things at Revolution.
– After Jon Moxley refused the Inner Circle’s invitation last week, it made sense they would beat him down and stab him in the eye. This will escalate matters on the way to Revolution, and hopefully Moxley will completely lose the plot and show us just how dangerous he can be.
– While I was critical of AEW’s over usage of older names, ‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes and Diamond Dallas Page showed their worth. Really impressed with DDP especially, as most 63-year-old wrestlers are long past it and would never be cleared. MJF is steadily getting good heat while being separated from Cody; although I kinda wish the pin was on DDP or Rhodes than QT Marshall.
– Pac vs. Darby Allin is exactly what AEW Dynamite should be about. You have two guys who have been overlooked in recent years going all out (with something on the line) in the main event. While it’s unlikely Darby Allin will go on to challenge Jericho again, he continues to show his worth as the future of AEW. They could easily make a mid-card title for him to hold over a year and the fans would eat it up. He’s already more over than most of the roster.
– I admire MJF making it difficult for Cody to get revenge, but that’s the only positive I can take out of the feud so far.
– Joey Janela’s promo surprised me. He doesn’t usually get my attention, but his promise to have a better year and show his true worth is encouraging. Janela did the job of hyping his match with Fenix.
– Jim Ross needs to learn the names of the wrestlers. It’s not Michael.. it’s Maxwell. While I love JR, he keeps getting lost and it might be worth bringing him backstage to help in other ways. Taz would be a decent replacement, but he’s also shown how careless he can be; especially during his TNA run. I think they need to bring in someone who is young, hungry and focused. Or just leave it as a duo with Tony and Excalibur?
– While Awesome Kong is well past her prime, she was sorely missing from the women’s tag team match. I have to be critical of the women’s division for a second week in a row, mainly because of Brandi Rhodes. The Nightmare Collective has zero heat and Brandi does not have much ring sense. Mel wasn’t too bad, but it’s difficult to cover up the weaknesses of the team. Shida & Statlander’s win would’ve been far more impressive had Awesome Kong been cleared.
Even Jim Ross had to question a spot Brandi did. While working over Shida, she got the referee interested in Statlander so Mel could help her double team. Instead of taking advantage.. Brandi left the ring so Mel could beat up Shida on her own without even tagging in. This isn’t only a botch on Brandi’s part, but the referee’s too. He should have turned around and noticed they had not tagged; and Brandi would still be considered active. Do rules not apply in tag matches? And what’s happened to Britt Baker, Bea Priestley, Shanna, Big Swole, Emi Sakura and Sadie Gibbs? Aubrey Edwards should not be more over than these women.
– Cody Rhodes stating the stipulations needed so he can face MJF still reeks of desperation. Who in their right mind would give in to such crazy demands so they can get a wrestling match? If you hate the guy so much.. find him backstage and punch him square in the mouth? There’s no reason to be this hung up on the fact MJF won’t accept a match.
If Stone Cold Steve Austin wanted a match with someone? He’d torture the guy til he gave in. Having to go through a cage match with Wardlow isn’t bad, and neither does the ‘no touch’ rule.. but to get ten lashings? C’mon now, this isn’t medieval times. We don’t need to see Cody getting whipped just so we can see this. It’s ridiculous really. I understand wanting to create intrigue, but you give ten lashings because Cody has NO choice but to receive them; not because it’s part of some silly made up ‘demands’.
With a consistent product you’d expect WWE NXT to be doing well in the Wednesday Night War, but the fact it’s smooth and rarely random could be hurting its appeal. It’s all well and good putting on great matches, but they need to be creating memories for everyone to enjoy looking back on in five, ten, fifty years from now.
– Keith Lee is money and WWE is finally starting to realize how much star power he has. It’s only a matter of time til he breaks out as one of WWE’s most important stars, but this stage of his development is vital. Give him time to talk to the audience almost every week and he’ll connect with the fans in a big way.
– There’s awesome chemistry between Matt Riddle and Pete Dunne as ‘The Broserweights’. So much so that I wouldn’t mind ’em teaming together after the Dusty Tag Team Classic. Kinda sucks it comes at the expense of Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster (they are great together), but it’s not like a full-time team won last year.
– As an avid NXT UK fan, I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears when the GRIZZLED (it’s gotta’ be said that way) Young Veterans pulled one over The Time Splitters. Just to rub it in, Zack Gibson showed us why he’s a master heel on the mic; and there’s arguably no one better in WWE outside of Paul Heyman and Kevin Owens. James Drake sold the win superbly.
– The triple threat cruiserweight match, wow. I don’t know what it is since Triple H brought it over to NXT, but the division is miles above what they were doing earlier last year. Much to my surprise (I was expecting Lio), Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott got a crucial victory and will undoubtedly give Angel Garza a run for his money.
– DIY vs. Moustache Mountain at Worlds Collide? Hell yeah, they are probably the best two tag teams WWE has on any brand. Stick them together and magic is always guaranteed. It’s still a little strange seeing Gargano & Ciampa together, but we can’t complain if this is what we’re getting.
– The Finn Balor promo on Ilja Dragunov was incredibly well done. For those who don’t know Dragunov, this kid is a future star and should be taken seriously. He took Cesaro to the limit a couple of months ago, and is being bred as one of NXT UK’s biggest draws after Walter moves on to another brand.
– The NXT Women’s Battle Royal highlights how they are leagues ahead of most women’s divisions. If half of these stars were available to work for AEW, NWA, Impact or ROH? They’d be a lot better off. The NXT brands have made it their mission to acquire the very best. But yet, while the match was good, I think it could’ve done a better job showcasing the lesser known talents. Also, Bianca Belair’s victory is a bit of a downer as we know she’s gonna’ lose to Ripley; while Io Shirai is clearly everyone’s favourite to rival the NXT Women’s Champion.
– Kushida has been suffering lately, and him losing with Alex Shelley in their first match together (on NXT) isn’t great. They could’ve introduced the team sooner and built them up to this tournament, then the loss to GRIZZLED Young Veterans would’ve come as a bigger surprise. Not a good first step for either of them.
– Undisputed Era was made to look weak while running away from Keith Lee. We saw how the Inner Circle dismantled Moxley, so I think they needed something similar going in to the title match next week. While him looking unstoppable isn’t necessarily bad, his win will seem all the more predictable.
– Shayna Baszler has fallen so far it’s not funny. How has she not been moved on to Raw or SmackDown yet? It tells us that dominating NXT for over a year means diddly-squat as you’re not going to progress. You’ll just end up going backwards and eliminated by Shotzi Blackheart (who is known for selling her own feces.. no, I’m not joking!).
– Nice to see Kacy Catanzaro, although she fell under the radar because Tegan Nox returned on the same night. Bring returning wrestlers back in singles matches so the focus is on them.
– Where was Imperium after Undisputed Era ambushed them at NXT TakeOver: Blackpool II? We heard ’em talk a whole bunch of trash in German, but there’s no sense of urgency. The response needed to be immediate to keep up the heat between NXT’s biggest factions.
For the first time in a while I feel like AEW has turned a corner. There’s still got a long way to go, especially as it pertains to their women’s division; but hopefully they will rectify that in the coming weeks. NXT however, hasn’t done a good enough job in building anyone towards Rhea Ripley’s title. Io Shirai is supposed to be a heel.. but is so damn cool the fans cheer for her anyways. Bianca Belair isn’t over enough to be considered a threat. They put so much in to Ripley that even with a massive division, it’s gonna’ take months before we can believe anyone’s capable of dethroning her.
AEW Dynamite was much more positive than previous weeks, to the point I want to give them the win. While I’m still understandably critical of The Elite’s booking, others had their time to shine. With the news of them having their TV deal extended, it’s all good vibes and everyone at AEW should be able to breathe easy and not feel the need to do too much in this Wednesday Night War. That was my biggest gripe, that it seemed like they were trying too hard. Now they’re safe with a TV deal for years to come, I hope the roster can begin to relax and work with better timing.
NXT on the other hand.. the roster is doing everything in their power, but the Undisputed Era has dominated too long and the prophecy needs to end. Otherwise, the product will continue to lose out in the ratings as it stagnates, because NXT is about never standing still. Therefore, this puts my score to 6-5-3 in NXT’s favour. Their consistency remains their biggest asset, but if AEW can iron out some of their most apparent flaws? It’s gonna’ get very interesting indeed. Thanks for reading everyone! See you next week.